Post-apocalyptic Revelations

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When Things Fall Apart: Revelations in Post-apocalyptic Fiction

The post-apocalyptic wasteland is not a new setting for imaginative works, but it is currently a popular one. From zombie apocalypses to eco-disasters to the alienating triumph of corporate power, disaster is a hot topic. What role do such fictions play in our world? Are they escapist fantasies that distract us from real problems? Inoculations that normalize the terror for us and make us blind to its encroachment? What destructive patterns and structures do they recognize? What longings for change to they articulate? In this introductory literature class, you will read and write about works by Nnedi Okorafor, Junot Diaz, Derek Walcott, Indra Sinha, Margaret Atwood, Miroslav Prstojevic, and others that contemplate society’s downfall in order to reflect on the ways that it is already broken. You will learn different uses and connotations of the terms utopia, dystopia, and apocalypse with an eye towards critical reflections on representations of race, sexuality, corporate culture and globalization. You will develop reading strategies and interpretive approaches to the texts themselves and you will contribute to the conversations about literature and society that have arisen around these texts.

As part of the core curriculum, this course is designed to teach you to do the following:

  • identify the various elements and components of a literary text.
  • identify the importance of contextual materials in determining the meaning of the primary text.
  • recognize that the meaning of a text can shift when its details are analyzed in different ways or when it is read against various historical, authorial, generic, and theoretical contexts.
  • use their close reading and analytical skills to write persuasive interpretations of literature and relate their own ideas about the text to others’ interpretations.
  • apply various contextual and theoretical materials when constructing their own interpretation of a primary text.
  • explain in an essay exam the basic concepts and tools of literary interpretation.